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Campaign Encourages All Iowans to Take Active Role in Improving Water Quality

August 12, 2020

A campaign encouraging all Iowans to roll up their sleeves and actively participate in activities improving water quality launches today at the Mark Schleisman farm near Lake City, Iowa.

“Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here,” created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and Newsradio 1040 WHO, aims to raise awareness of conservation initiatives at work in Iowa and encourage all Iowans to get personally involved in water quality activities and outcomes.  

The campaign, backed by nearly a dozen partners, was the idea of farm broadcaster Bob Quinn who co-hosts “The Big Show” broadcast weekdays on WHO (Des Moines) and WMT (Cedar Rapids) Radio.  

“Improving water quality begins with awareness about practices that work and how they can be put to use at home, on the farm, at school and in the office,” says Quinn. “Sharing these stories seems a natural fit for what we do as broadcasters as we’re in the information and awareness business.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says Iowa farmers are working cooperatively with numerous stakeholders to increase the number of acres and practices dedicated to enhancing soil and water health.  

“There is more conservation work happening right now in Iowa than ever before,” he says.
“Hundreds of public and private partners are working alongside farmers, landowners and municipalities to deploy proven, science-based strategies to improve water quality on the local level and downstream.

“The ‘Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here Campaign,’” Naig adds, “is a great way to highlight our dedicated partners and some of the incredible conservation projects happening all over the state.”

Quinn will visit locations throughout Iowa showcasing the people and practices that are having a positive and measurable impact on water quality. Numerous topics will be highlighted, from conserving and recycling water and reducing nutrient movement to filtering excess rainwater and improving soil health in concert with agricultural productivity.

The conversations with farmers, landowners, business operators and conservation leaders will be broadcast Wednesdays on The Big Show airing 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WHO and 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WMT.

Schleisman, host of the inaugural stop on the Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here campaign, raises cattle and pigs and grows soybeans, corn, popcorn and popcorn seed on his Calhoun County farm. He utilizes numerous conservation practices including no-till and strip till, grassed waterways and buffer strips. Schleisman has also installed a bioreactor, planted pheasant and pollinator habitat and continuously documented the economic benefits of the practices he uses.

“It’s important to our family that we do as much as we can to improve water quality and that begins with looking at my farm and how it’s managed,” says Schleisman, a 2018 American Soybean Association National Conservation Legacy Award recipient. “I want my land to be healthy and productive for future generations and to have a positive impact downstream and upstream.”

Quinn says the implementation of conservation practices, however, isn’t limited to rural areas. Urban residents can join in by keeping leaves, grass clippings and other yard debris out of the street and gutters and slowing runoff and recycling rainwater through rain barrels, rain gardens and swales. Cleaning up oil, anti-freeze and fertilizer spills to prevent them from running into the storm drains, seeding pollinator habitat and properly disposing of paints, solvents and metals also have a positive impact on water.

Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here campaign partners include Agri-Drain, Hagie Manufacturing, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Montag Manufacturing, and The Nature Conservancy. 

To learn more about the campaign and conservation practices that can be implemented where you live and work, go to CleanWaterIowa.org.

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